…But Fool 'Em Twice then Shame on Them!

In eartly August, I wrote of how most of the political left had lost its sense of conviction in the decades following the '60s, of how their ability to believe had been restored by the 2008 Presidential campaign of Barack Hussein Obama, but of how that sense of belief was disintegrating in the face of the actual Presidency of Mr Obama. Well, a large share of the left has since found something new from which to draw Hope — the Occupation movement.

It's widely noted that the Occupation movement lacks a programme. They've made it plain that they think that there's a 1% who are the Enemy; but, aside from the intention to somehow beat wealth out of this group,[1] the movement as a whole is short on specifics. Individual members or groups within the Occupation movement may espouse something more precise, but other members deny any sort of responsibility for those proposals. There isn't even meta-agreement within the Occupation movement on a protocol for agreement.

In lieu of a programme, what the Occupation movement gives us is a sort of attitudinal posture. That ought to remind people of something. In particular, it ought to remind people of Barack Hussein Obama in 2008. Granted that, in his case, the ambiguïty was a deliberate choice, whereäs in the case of the Occupation movement it results from collective indecision. Still, once again, a large share of the political left has invested itself in a cypher.


[1] The urging of state action may not itself be immediately violent, but the whole point of using the state is to employ its capacity for violence, to threaten or worse.

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2 Responses to …But Fool 'Em Twice then Shame on Them!

  • Gaal Yahas says:

    Violence is a red herring here. You say

    > the whole point of using the state is to employ its capacity for violence, to threaten or worse.

    According to whom? Some people believe there are other points to the State, for example to organize large enterprises such as education or health. You might argue this way of doing things is inefficient, or foolish, or whatever, but I don't see how that means the people you are disagreeing with are appealing to violence.

    Certainly the Occupation movement would like wealth to be distributed, but I don't think it would reject a voluntary surrender of wealth from members of the "1%". And to stipulate that any such surrender would necessarily be an action taken under duress is to reduce all discourse and demonstration to violence or implied threat thereof. I don't see how that's a useful idea.

    • Daniel says:

      According to whom?

      Rather than demanding the authority of a person, let's ask According to what? And the answer will be: according both to which amongst the various potential choices of social institutions are actually chosen, and to how these things are effected in practice.

      If one isn't seeking to use violence, then one can use a different institution — one already in existence but not the state, or one creäted for the purpose at hand; not only does the state not have peculiar competence when it comes to matters other than violence, but one does not naturally grab for a hammer amongst the tools unless one is seeking to pound something. In practice, the state often displaces existing institutions, and it does so exactly because it can use violence to displace them and violence to effect things that other institutions do not.

      When the state took charge of education and where it has taken control of health-care, it didn't continue its funding simply on the basis of bona fide user-fees (where services could be declined) or of voluntary donations. (The lynch-pin of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the individual mandate.)

      (And it's usually worth noting that the system of compulsory education used through much of the world was modelled on that of Prussia, where a principal objective was to produce better soldiers.)

      To stipulate that any party who would be willing to have its objectives effected by non-violent means is as peaceful as one who insisted that those objectives must not be effected by violent means would be to claim that virtually everyone were a pacifist. But let neither of us battle straw-men. The issue is not of who would peacefully accept Yes but of who believes that violence is an appropriate response to No.

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